[PD] a general discussion about which software to learn: pd, max, both... or else?

Chuckk Hubbard badmuthahubbard at gmail.com
Mon Oct 15 12:37:22 CEST 2007

The documentation for Pd says that it started from the desire to make
something similar to Max BUT with a facility for user-customizable scoring,
what is now Pd's data structure system.  IMO this is the single most useful
aspect of Pd.  The only other software I know of that would allow similar
functioning would be toolkits (like the one used for Pd) or graphics
libraries for adding into programming languages.  I guess Java is another
possibility.  AFAIK Max still doesn't have anything like Pd's data
structures (there is something in the documentation about "data structures"
but it don't work the same).

I personally never spent much time with Max simply because I like to share
my programs with non-programmers.  I'm also very fond of FOSS for all the
usual reasons.  I also like to use Linux; I have Windows XP and Linux
running on my laptop, and Mac OSX on my wife's, so even if I wanted to put
Max on my Windows system I'd have to buy it twice to use it on both comps.
I already have Pd on all 3 OS's, and if I work on a university computer it
only takes a few minutes to put Pd on it, and I can work on the same
patches.  At one point I had Pd installers for several OS's on my flash
drive, so I didn't even need net access to use it on any computer I came

Maybe these aren't reasons for you, but they're my experience.  In general
terms, I'd say one un-trumpable advantage of Pd is that, if there are any
features Max might have that Pd doesn't, they can be added to Pd by anyone
who knows how (or wants to learn).  I don't know if Max has any video
control or not, but if you haven't already checked out Pd's GEM, you can
easily spend days exploring it without eating.

If you are interested in hardcore digital audio control, I'd also suggest
Csound and SuperCollider (PsyCollider on Windows).  I know Csound better
than Pd at this point, but I try to balance myself between those two.  There
is also something called Nyquist that I haven't explored.  Blue is a very
useful free front-end for Csound, written in Java and so cross-platform.
There's also a Pd object called csoundapi~ that comes with Csound, allowing
one to use the data structures of Pd with the huge library of opcodes of
Csound.  The guy who created it is very open to requests and questions, not

The GIMP is a great free almost-Photoshop.  I believe there is documentation
somewhere actually delineating what it doesn't have that PS does, I don't
think it's much.  Blender is a free 3d-modeling app with a crazy, efficient
interface.  I think it's cool, but I'm no expert.


On 10/14/07, David Schaffer <schafferdavid at hotmail.com> wrote:
>  Hi everybody,
>          I'm a stage/audiovisual technician willing to make a move into
> digital arts. I've been using pd for quite some time know and I was
> wondering if it would be useful for me to learn Max: according to you guys,
> which of the two programs seems to be most widely used, most popular, most
> promising in terms of future devellopements? Is it worth to be good in both
> or to become "excellent" (whatever that means...) in one of them? Is there
> another platform out there that would be worth giving a look (outside of the
> established stuff like pro tools, final cut, photoshop etc...) Thank you for
> your answers.
>                                                             D.S
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